upload image

From D. S. Walker to Joseph Watson, February 25, 1827

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Natchez, Adams, Mississippi, United Statesmap
This page has been accessed 63 times.

Letter from D. S. Walker to Joseph Watson, February 25, 1827

Published in

  • The African Observer. United States: I. Ashmead, printer, 1827.

Natchez, Feb. 25, 1827.

Dear Sir,—

I have the pleasure of acknowledging yours of the 24th ult. [24 Jan 1827] received yesterday.

That the citizens of Philadelphia would feel aggrieved at this outrage, and that her active and intelligent police would use every means of redress, was expected. Here, if humanity could sleep, our own safety would prompt to action. There will be no want of either proper feeling or exertion among our citizens on this subject.

When my respected friends, Gov. Holmes and Mr. Davis, mentioned this subject to me as one requiring professional aid, I offered my services, but without requiring or intending to receive a fee. Your letter contained the first intimation I had received of such an offer, which I would have declined accepting from them; and as I do from you. I cannot agree in such a case, to receive any pecuniary compensation from any quarter.

It was thought advisable not to give publicity to this subject, until the necessary steps were taken, to ascertain the residence of all these kidnapped blacks, and to prevent their further removal. This, as far as practicable, has been done. Our laws require these suits to be instituted in the Counties where the persons claiming the negroes reside, and the jurisdiction of the United States' Court in such cases, was at least doubtful. Five suits have been brought for eight of them — one in Pike County, for Peter Hook, William Miller, John Jacobs, and James Bayard — three suits in Lawrence County, for Clem, Ephraim and Henry — and one in Adams County, for Lydia. — My brother and partner, Robert J. Walker, is now at the Supreme Court, at Monticello, and will make all possible inquiry into the situation of the remaining six, not yet accurately ascertained, although an inquiry was instantly set on foot. Milton Trusty and William Chase, are believed to be in Wayne County. Every man, woman and child, of these unfortunates in our State, must be hunted out and as at present advised, we expect to account for twelve of them. Staten and Constant were sold to one Wood, near Milledgeville, Georgia; so says Lydia, who adds another to this dark catalogue of crime, Hannah, a small yellow woman, stolen from Philadelphia.

These poor creatures have been so scattered over our sparsely peopled County, that we have been obliged to ask the aid of some of the members of the bar who practice in those Circuits, which neither my brother or self attend, and which has been very promptIy afforded by R. M. Gaines and William Case, Esqs. The documents forwarded to the late Richard Stockton, I have not yet been able to see, in the absence of his Administrator. In his death, the cause of humanity has lost an able advocate.

I can appreciate the difficulty you anticipate, of identifying black children, by the evidence of white persons. But however onerous it may be on all hands, we must do our duty. Written evidence; of course, is admissible; but it cannot be taken under the act of Congress. Interrogatories must be filed, and copies served on defendants, with 15 days' notice, before commission can issue. This will be done as soon as possible; but not in time for trial at the Spring Term in March and April. If, however, you will send on satisfactory testimony in any of the cases, I do not despair of inducing the defendants to waive formal exceptions.

I enclose Lydia's statement. In her case, commissions, &c. will be waived, if the testimony is taken under the act of Congress. Testimony will be required from Delaware or Maryland, as well as from Philadelphia, in her case. I know you "will leave no stone unturned,” to procure the necessary testimony, and we will leave no bayou unsearched for the restoration of the captives to their homes. Our soil affords no stone for building Penitentiaries, but our forests supply gallows for the kidnapper; and while our laws protect slave property, they will restore the free. The defendants, in these cases, have been imposed on, and trials must be had to enable them to regain their money.

We need no stimulus to exertion in this cause ; public opinion is with us. The Philadelphians may rely on the hearty co-operation of our citizens in the pursuit and punishment of these audacious and infamous aggressors on all laws, human and divine. Forward the testimony, stating it to be “taken on the petition of ——, for his or their discharge from illegal confinement.” and I hope to render a favourable account of these kidnapped blacks.

Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
D. S. Walker.

Hon. Joseph Watson

  • Login to edit this profile and add images.
  • Private Messages: Send a private message to the Profile Manager. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)


Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.